I've been getting laser hair removal treatments for 11 years, and it has been my longest, most committed relationship to date. I am one of those ladies with coarse black hair that grows on her body and also, just for shits n' giggles, on my upper lip and brow. Granted, this level of commitment feels more like it was thrust upon me rather than one made of my own volition. No, I do not like having a procedure similar to a hot frying pan blitzkrieging my skin every six weeks, but the world is very unkind to those of us with an extra dose of follicle growth, and no one wants to let us forget it.
Sure, there are some people who take pleasure in the company of a hirsute hottie, but it is the opinion of me, your hero for the next 1,100 words—and also a woman with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome—that, no, ya'll think us dames with facial and body hair are gross, obscene monsters who need to trim that shit. Calm your wax strips, we are obliging, in staggering statistics. Salon reported last year that, "more than 99 percent of American women voluntarily remove hair, and more than 85 percent do so regularly, even daily […] One 2008 survey indicated, American women who shave (a relatively inexpensive way to remove hair) will spend, on average, more than ten thousand dollars and nearly two entire months of their lives simply managing unwanted hair. The woman who waxes once or twice a month will spend more than twenty-three thousand dollars over the course of her lifetime."
Don't look at those numbers and think women are crazy, because you have no idea the kind of social conditioning (aka bullying and abuse) that comes with being a woman with healthy follicle activity. After what I've endured, I will gladly pay any fee to just make it staaaahhhhp.
At the age of ten, before I even hit puberty, I was told that a "forest is growing on your legs." On the school bus, kids would sing the Gillette Razor jingle to me, "the best A MAN can get," emphasizing how unfeminine I was. My nickname was "'Stache." The worst it ever got (and it's fucking painful to this day to even type this), a bully said to me on a school bus full of children, "When you were born, God thought your face was your cunt, so he put hair all over it." I was 11 years old.
Sure, kids are mean and bullies are bad, blah blah fucking blah, but if you think that abuse ended with adolescence, you're as thick as Nair. I've had adult men dump me because I skipped a leg wax. I've had emotionally abusive boyfriends shame me into removing body hair that I was actually cool with.
I've had women makeup artists scrutinize my every pore as they're applying my foundation. Before the age of 25, I had regularly been using every hair removal method known to modern western civilization—plucking, shaving, waxing, bleaching, depilatory creams, threading, sugaring, Intense Pulse Light, and finally Laser Hair Removal. None of these are permanent solutions, so it's safe to wager, until Queen Beyoncé is allowed to let her naturally occurring royal body hair just grow, I'll have to continue these methods until I die.
And that's not all, furry folks! It doesn't end with verbal abuse. The other joys of my life include:
- Scars from ingrown hairs! My bikini line looks like it lost a war with a hole puncher!
- Having to go to the emergency room twice already so they can drain the sebaceous cysts caused by ingrown hairs! Afterwards my hospital gurney looked like a stabbing victim had died on it.
- Never ending clogged drains! My shower plug looks like Wookie-ejaculate.
- Having to navigate the disgusting online dating underbelly filled with men who fetishize female body hair. I've had dudebros beg for the privilege to wax my legs. One Yoko Brono asked if he could just have a few moments to smell my unshaven pits. That idea needs to die in a fire.
- Akin to the above point, I once had a boyfriend who took great pleasure in plucking my pubes himself. His favourites were the double-hairs that come out of one follicle (yeah, that's a thing). It got to a point where I literally lost all autonomy over my own bikini zone. He would fly into a rage if I told him to step away from the tweezer and back away from my lady-bits. Men, amiright?
- Having white people suddenly wanna draw and colour in their eyebrows like really you used to tease me about my bushy eyebrow demons, now you trynna be on FLEEK? Take your weak-ass Maybelline-flavoured wire-thin eyebrows back to St. Catharines, for I am the New Jack City of eyebrows, you don't even come close.
There are some upsides to it all. I will most likely never have to worry about alopecia. Unlike all those white girls in the 90s who over-plucked their eyebrows only to have them never properly return, I could completely shave off my caterpillars and they would grow back just as thick and strong as before. Suck it, fad beauty trends!
But the real, everyday struggle is just allowing myself to feel feminine. I force myself to remember every day that, in a patriarchal culture that profits from my self-doubt and self-hate, loving myself the way I am is a rebellious act. Yeah, that sounds pretty Oprah, but whatever. Oprah has great hair.
You know who else has great hair and loves themselves the way they are? Harnaam Kaur, a young Sikh woman from the UK who, like me, suffers from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, but unlike me, allows herself to just be the hirsute hottie that she is. Granted, I am not cursed/blessed with her level of hirsutism, but I don't know if, in the event our places were reversed, I would be as courageous as she. I don't know if I have her level of self-worth. I think that was beaten out of me years ago on the school bus. I would, in all likelihood, acquiesce to all the pitchforks made of tweezers.
Beauty may only be skin deep, but so are my hair follicles.
Because no matter what anyone says, it truly takes a formidable woman to rock a flower-beard on her wedding day. #RelationshipGoals
Photo via Flickr user Clare Treasure
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